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Russian Gays Mark ‘Day of Silence’ With Individual Action in St. Petersburg


Events also staged in Novokuznetsk and Yaroslavl


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‘Day of Silence’ in St. Petersburg 


ST. PETERSBURG  –  May 6, 2008  –  With their mouths taped, 25 participants in Russia’s first ‘Day of Silence’ on Saturday, took turns to hold a banner that said: “I am silent to be heard”.

And flyers were also handed out to passers-by in St. Petersburg’s Chernyshevskiy Park.

For two hours, the participants remained silent as they took their public stand against discrimination emotional harassment, violence, hate crimes, and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Initially, the city authorities gave permission for a demonstration.  But this was overturned by ‘City Hall’ days before the event.

So, organisers scaled-down their plans, and what took place was individual protest in the park – individual rallies do not require preliminary approval by the authorities.

The Day of Silence is St. Petersburg finished at 2 pm  with “mass applause and cheering”, symbolising that the ‘wall of silence’ would be brought down.

Following the event, rally participants walked to the metro station Ploschad Vosstaniya, escorted by a militia (police) vehicle.

The rally in the park went without incident.  But following the rally, there was an attack on two of the participants as the made their way to a nearby café.

Igor Petrov, one of the co-organisers of Day of Silence, and Ignat Fialkovskiy, the press secretary of the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Side by Side, were attacked by three strangers.

Fortunately, the activists got away with only a couple of bumps and bruises that were confirmed at a trauma centre.  The incident was reported to the militia.

The Day of Silence on Saturday was also marked in Novokuznetsk (3,000 km east of Moscow) and Yaroslavl (260 km north east of Moscow) in the form of a “flash mob.”

In Novokuznetsk, the event had 20 participants, volunteers who joined-in thanks to an invitation sent through social networks.

“Despite the bad weather, the “flash mob” was a success – many citizens received flyers explaining why the issue of silencing is relevant and what consequences it has,” a spokesperson said..

“This event also did not go trouble-free – the “flash mob” participants were attacked by a group of skinheads, one young man was injured.”

■ The “flash mob” in Novokuznetsk on Saturday.
photo courtesy
Russian LGBT Network

The organiser of the group from Yaroslavl reported that nine people took part in their “flash mob”.

“The participants divided into groups of two or three people and headed in different directions,” the spokesperson said.

“Only a few people reacted negatively to the offered flyers – they were three young men who, in their own words, turned out to be Nazis, and one very religious old woman.

“All in all, more than 600 flyers were distributed by the Day of Silence participants in Yaroslavl.”

There might not have been a massive turnout for the events in the three cities, but organisers said it was “a great success”.

“We were able to achieve the most important thing – the word about the problem of emotional harassment and violence, discrimination and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity reached many people, while the attacks on the participants of the event in St. Petersburg and Novokuznetsk confirmed the relevance of the problem,” one participant said..

“We would like to stress that it was important for the organisers of the Day of Silence in Russia to hold the event in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation and to ensure maximum safety for the event participants, which was achieved.”

This year, the Day of Silence went “international” with events in the USA, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the Netherlands.


Gay Activists Attacked in St. PetersburgUnidentified assailants attacked gay activists after a Day of Silence picket in Chernyshevsky Park in St. Petersburg on Saturday.  (Interfax, May 4, 2008)

Gay Activists Plastered Mouths, Gathered in Park in St. PetersburgSexual minority groups in St. Petersburg gathered for a rally on Saturday to mark the Day of Silence, despite an official ban.  (Interfax, May 4, 2008)

St. Petersburg City Authorities Do U-Turn on Gay ‘Day of Silence’ The authorities in St. Petersburg have unexpectedly changed their decision and will not approve the mass rally dedicated to the International Day of Silence – the first in Russia, it emerged this afternoon. (UK Gay News, May 1, 2008)

Russian Gays to Stage ‘Day of Silence’ in St. Petersburg Next Month Gay men and women in St. Petersburg will be marking the first-ever Russian Day of Silence on Saturday May 3 with a rally on Malaya Konyushennaya Street.  (UK Gay News, April 26, 2008)


  Russian 'Day of Silence' website
  website (in English)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.  

Posted: 6 May 2008 at 15:00 (UK time)
updated 6 May at 18:00



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